A Pivotal Season For Milwaukee

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: April 16, 2010

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — There are at least two important periods of the season for all major league teams — the offseason and the mid-season.

For the Milwaukee Brewers, this past offseason was important as they look to get back to the playoffs from two seasons ago. General manager Doug Melvin felt he addressed the team’s two important needs in pitching and left-handed bats in the lineup.

Melvin’s expectation for the starting pitchers is to throw at least six innings in their starts. Last season, that didn’t happen. He wants about 900 innings this season out of the starters. The lack of quality innings from last year’s starters resulted in the bullpen being overworked.

In the offseason, Melvin signed proven starters Doug Davis and Randy Wolf. Both of them pitched over 200 innings last season. Add Yovani Gallardo to the mix, Dave Bush and the overpaid and underachieving fifth starter, Jeff Suppan, and we’ll see if the “Brew Crew” will turn around their 2009 80-82 season.

Sports Illustrated picked Milwaukee to finish fourth in the NL Central behind St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati.

If you pay attention to this year’s batting lineup, it looks like a new team.

Jim Edmonds, who was a non-roster invite to Spring Training, made the roster and starts in right field.

Corey Hart was beaten out of that position by the 30-something Edmonds, who proved to the Milwaukee brass that he still can play when many thought he was washed up.

For now, Hart is the highest paid bench player on the roster after winning his arbitration hearing and getting $4.8 million. He might be trade bait by mid-season.

The infield this year on Opening Day include Prince Fielder at first base, Rickie Weeks at second, Alcides Escobar at shortstop and Casey McGehee at third. Their opening game infield 40 years ago was Mike Hegan, Tommy Harper, Ted Kubiak and Max Alvis, respectively.

New pitching coach Rick Peterson is part coach and part psychologist. He wants to work on the mechanics of all his pitchers and know what makes them tick in the head.

Good thing he doesn’t have to manage any whack jobs like Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have closer Trevor Hoffman back. Hoffman is closing in on 600 career saves and 1,000 career appearances.

Milwaukee principal owner Mark Attanasio spent more money this offseason to keep the team competitive.

He recently locked up Gallardo for another five years to avoid losing him to that greedy team like the New York Yankees. He’s trying to keep Fielder here also, as the Yanks proved that money talks and B.S. walks.

Recently, Attanasio accused the Yankees of their infield making more money than his entire team payroll, which stood at $81.1 million on Opening Day. The New York infield will make $84.6 million this year (Alex Rodriguez, $33 million, Derek Jeter, $22 million, Mark Teixeira, $20.6 million and Robinson Cano, $9 million).

“I’m sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers,” Yankees president Randy Levine told ESPN New York.com. “I didn’t think I was whining,” Atttanasio said to MLB.com. “I was stating a simple fact.”

Levine stated that the Yanks play by the rules and that Attanasio, as well as the other teams, benefit from revenue sharing. Levine said Attanasio should take some of that revenue sharing money and sign other free agents and keep his own players from walking.

Manager Ken Macha is in the last year of his two-year deal. Nothing has been discussed about an extension for him. It depends on how the Brewers finish.

Bench coach Willie Randolph is hanging around in case things break down and Macha is fired before season’s end. Randolph last managed the New York Mets and has managerial experience. Remember, Randolph also interviewed for the job.

Milwaukee led or tied for the NL Central until early July. A mid-season meltdown resulted in a disappointment for the organization. Given the increase in payroll, it can’t happen again or heads will roll.

Just ask former pitching coach Bill Castro, who was the victim of the ax when last year’s pitchers failed to perform under pressure.

Attanasio knows that in the business world, you have to spend money to make money. So he spent more than he would have liked. And he’s ready to open the checkbook to keep Fielder from leaving.

The Brewers tried to re-sign pitcher CC Sabathia but knew they couldn’t afford to keep him. Sabathia was on the World Series championship team of the Yankees.

If the Yankees open their wallet, who’s going to stop Fielder from going there? All he has to do is look at the World Series ring of Sabathia and think about playing for a playoff contender.

At this stage, Fielder doesn’t want to be on a rebuilding team, which is what the Brewers might be after this year. Then it might be another 26 years before they make the playoffs again.

Before you draw conclusions about the Brewers of 2010, wait until the end of September. That way, you’ll know if the money spent on improving the ballclub was worth it.

You’ll get an idea of whether their record produced the results that was expected. Maybe 3,000,000 fans will attend Miller Park to watch a good team or bad team for the third straight year.